Battle Belt Setup With Plate Carrier

Not so long ago a soldier could fit all of his essential gear and equipment in his/her webbing or on his/her body armor. Compared to a few decades ago, the modern soldier’s equipment load has increased by a ton.

Nowadays soldiers and law enforcement officers have to carry around so much essential gear that it has got very difficult to place all of it on a single rig.

The days where one could make do with just his battle belt setup or his plate carrier setup are over.

A great way to efficiently fit and arrange all your critical gear is to combine a battle belt setup with plate carrier.

This will not only allow you to wear more gear but also help you arrange all your critical gear in a manner where it becomes faster and more easily accessible.

Before getting to how to wear and how to set up a battle belt and plate carrier setup combo, let’s take a look at battle belts and plate carriers in general.

Battle Belt

Battle Belt Setup
A Battle Belt Setup

Battle belts or war belts are belts that allow their users to easily and efficiently wear their essential and critical gear on their beltline.

They are usually padded and/ or reinforced and lined with a molle webbing, that makes placing gear and pouches on the belt simple and easy.

Battle belts work great whit or without a plate carrier. They allow the user to distribute their gear more over their body. And make their first line or critical gear more accessible.

To read more about battle belts and about the battle belt setup in general you can go check out my complete battle belt setup guide.

Plate Carrier

Plate Carrier Setup
Plate Carrier Setup

Plate carriers, just like the name suggests are tactical vests that ”carry” ballistic plates that cover your vital areas in them.

They don’t only offer you protection in your vital areas but also are great for equipment placement.

The carriers are usually covered in a molle webbing (but not always) that makes adding pouches and equipment to them easy and efficient.

Battle Belt Setup With Plate Carrier

So why should you use a battle belt with a plate carrier? Well if set up correctly the combination of the two can have a few advantages over using either one separately.

For an obvious example, carrying a plate carrier with your battle belt setup offers you protection against not only small arms fire but also rifle fire and shell fragments.

But overall the main advantages would be, that you will be able to organize and arrange your loadout better, it will allow you to carry more gear if necessary and allow you to distribute your overall loadout weight over your whole body.

Better Access To Equipment

Wearing a battle belt and a plate carrier combo, allows you to better organize and arrange your total loadout.

A more efficient and well-organized loadout means your critical gear becomes more accessible for you. Meaning you will get the equipment you need faster and with less hassle.

In critical situations every second counts. Being able to grab that extra mag or your med kit faster can be the difference between life and death.

Allows You To Carry More Gear.

Well, this is somewhat a no brainier, having two platforms to wear gear on, allows you to wear more gear.

This doesn’t mean, that you should try to fit absolutely every piece of equipment you have on you, nor try to fill every inch of free space. But it allows you to add mission-critical equipment if necessary.

Weight Distribution

One of the pros of wearing the duo loadout is that it can help you distribute your total equipment weight over your body.

When the weight is more evenly distributed over your body, it will become a lot easier to carry your gear around for longer periods of time, and it will make your life a lot more comfortable.

Battle Belt And Plate Carrier Loadout

The total loadout depends a lot on what you are going to use it for and your mission needs.

Depending on if you are using it for range work, military operation, law enforcement or for home defense, your gear will vary but there are some overall rules to follow.

Such as:

Mission Assessment

A mission assessment is something you should always do before choosing and setting up your tactical gear. This applies to all tactical gear.

In your mission assessment, you pinpoint your mission. Basically what you need the gear in the first place and what gear you need to successfully complete your task.

So the main things you need to ask yourself are: What do you need the gear for? What environment are you working in? What equipment do you need to successfully complete your task?

After you have answered those questions you can start putting together a list of your essential and mission-critical gear.


The plate carrier shouldn’t sit on your battle belt, or be so low that the gear and pouches on your carrier start interfering or getting in the way of accessing things on your belt.

If you have to tilt your body to get mags from your belt, or large pouches affect your pistol drawing, the combination of the two becomes somewhat useless and will do more harm than good.

Gear Placement

When wearing a battle belt setup with a plate carrier, the main idea would be to keep your main weapon oriented gear on your plate carrier and your sidearm gear on your battle belt.

The equipment should be placed logically and be streamlined. Your critical and essential gear should be easily accessible. The pouches shouldn’t interfere with accessing each other.

Next, let’s take a closer look at what the battle belt and plate carrier setups should contain and where to place them.

Plate Carrier Setup

The gear on your plate carrier should be your main weapon oriented and your critical gear oriented. Meaning your rifle magazines, your medical gear, and your mission specific gear.

When setting up your plate carrier you should keep a few things in mind:

  • Keep Your Shoulders Free!

    You shouldn’t place any pouches or gear on your shoulders. You need to keep both your shoulders clean because you must be able to shoot from both of your shoulders.
  • Front Side For Critical Gear!

    The most critical gear (such as your rifle magazines) should be placed on the front side of the carrier. You need to be able to access them fast!
  • Accessibility!

    You need to be able to access all the gear on the carrier, otherwise, it’s useless. Gear and pouches should be placed so they wouldn’t get in the way of reaching or accessing each other.

Now let’s get to the plate carrier setup itself. The plate carrier setup should consist of:

  • Rifle Magazines

    A good magazine count for your plate carrier should be between 3 and 6. That should be enough to cover one’s essential needs.

    For the placement, magazine pouches should be fitted on the front panel of the plate carrier. Either in the lover center part or slightly to your reload arm side of the carrier. You should be able to access them fast and easy and with both of your hands.

    I like to use taco or open-top style pouches for the mags. They make accessing them faster and more efficient. I would suggest having three two mag pouches on the carrier.
  • IFAK

    An IFAK is basically a medical pouch. IFAK is the acronym for individual first aid kit.

    The IFAK or med pouch should be placed on the carrier so you could get to it with both hands. Preferably on the front of the carrier. I tend to carry mine on the right side, just next to my mag pouches.
  • Hydration System

    Whatever your task/ mission you will need water to sustain you. A plate carrier is a great place to carry your drinking water.

    So for your hydration system, you have two options. Either You use a canteen or a drinking bottle or you use a water bladder/ camelback. I definitely suggest using a camelback.

    The camelback should be placed on the back end of your carrier and the bladder’s drinking tube should run either from one of your shoulders or under your arm.
  • Tourniquet

    Tourniquets are essential pieces of military medical equipment and your personal medkit.

    The tourniquet, much like your IFAK should be placed so you could access it with both of your hands. I suggest wearing it on the front panel, either somewhere next to your magazines or above them.

Other gear to consider adding to your plate carrier:

  • Multiool
  • Knife
  • Flashlight
  • Radio Pouch
  • Admin/ Misc Pouch

For a detailed and in-depth guide to plate carrier setups check out my complete plate carrier setup guide

Battle Belt Setup

Your battle belt setup should be focused on your critical gear and your sidearm set.

The sidearm set, your handgun, and its magazines should be kept on the battle belt, rather than the plate carrier. Because it takes a lot of room, and the space on your plate carrier is quite limited.

Also, this will leave you with some self-defense capability whenever you aren’t wearing your plate carrier.

The battle belt setup should consist of:

  • Sidearm Holster

    When placing a sidearm holster on your battle belt the most important thing to keep in mind is accessibility.

    The holster should be placed so it can draw it fast and effortlessly. And other pouches and equipment should be placed accordingly, so nothing would interfere or get in the way of drawing your pistol.
  • Sidearm Magazines

    The sidearm magazine count for the belt should be anywhere between 2 to 4 magazines. This, of course, depends on your mission and personal needs.

    I would suggest using some kind of taco pouches, or open-top pouches. They allow for quicker access to your magazines. And are in general more comfortable to use.

    The mags should be placed on your reload side of the body. If necessary an extra mag could be placed on the right side, if it doesn’t get in the way of your pistol.
  • Rifle Magazines

    The rifle mag count on your battle belt should be between 1 and 3. It depends mostly on your mission needs, and how many mags you already have on your plate carrier.

    The mags should be placed on your reload side of the body. If necessary an extra mag could be placed on the right side, if it doesn’t get in the way of your pistol.

    For the mag pouches, I recommend using taco or open-top style pouches.
  • IFAK

    Just like on the Plate Carrier, the IFAK should be placed somewhere where you could access it with both of your hands.

    I would recommend keeping the IFAK on the back of your belt. There you reach for it with both of your hands.

    For the pouch itself, you should use some kind of a rip off pouch. That you could quickly and easily rip off the battle belt whenever you need it.
  • Dump Pouch

    A dump pouch that is used for storing empty magazines between your reloads.

    Dump pouches definitely aren’t critical or must have pouches for battle belts. But they do give one a decent advantage when it comes to reloading and storing empty magazines.

    For the placement, you have two viable options. You can either place one in the back of the belt, so you could use it with both of your hands. Or place it on your reload/ weaker side of the body.

Other gear to consider adding to your battle belt:

  • Multiool
  • Knife
  • Tourniquet
  • Admin Pouch
  • Flashlight

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